Film: 5798

Social History | 1950 | Sound | B/W


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A comic look at the planning and operation of moving house with its traumas and problems that been anticipated 1950's

Advice to the householder on dealing with the removal firm with Pickfords featured.

Series of photographs of a boy growing up. Starts with a picture of him as a toddler, moving through school and college years then as a young man in the army and at work.
J.B., now an older man, descends a staircase with a wooden banister. He walks through a panelled wooden door in a living room where the family is sitting down. He stands by the fireplace and blows his nose. He puts on his glasses and begins to talk to his family. His son and daughter appear to be looking at a pair of albums containing a stamp collection. His wife is knitting. An older boy is reading a book and an older girl files her nails. The family pay little attention to their father as he talks about their impending house move. The narrator - Uncle Bob - comes into the room. He is slightly scruffy and interrupts J.B. The two younger children begin to argue and so their mother sits between them on the sofa until she rushes out, remembering her washing. Exasperated, J.B. sits down in a wing armchair and smokes a cigarette. The older son asks for one, but his father refuses. Mother comes back into the room with the washing and stops the arguing teenagers. She sits down and allows J.B. to continue what he was saying. She pecks him on the cheek and tells the children to listen to their father. J.B. proceeds to explain his plan for moving house with the least fuss. His system involves sticky labels with numbers for each item of furniture.
When the doorbell rings, the family rush out of the room away from their father. Short montage follows with J.B. labelling items, including a clock, the head of a lion skin rug, the cast-iron fire grate (with flames still burning) and the kitten is covered in a huge number 12 as it eats its food. J.B. shakes hands with the estimator who has arrived at the house. The whole family gather round as the two men speak. The family appear jolly pleased as the estimator appears to take over the organisation of the house move, presumably in order for everything to run much more smoothly. J.B. shows him round the house and tries to offer advice. The estimator is quite confident: "We'll manage. They look at items of furniture including glass-fronted display cabinets, and walk along the hallway which is decorated with floral wall paper. They go into Uncle Bob's workshop, still with the entire family following. The room is cluttered with various tools and materials. Bob pushes through them, smoking a cigarette, in order to find a saw. The estimator writes in a small black notebook. The family descend the stairs. Tommy the youngest son appears at the bottom of the stairs with his face covered in sticky numbers. He is sent away to remove them. Various shots of J.B. trying to organise things - paperwork spread over the living room floor, lists of "special articles". J.B. packs glasses into a wooden tea chest, Elsie, his wife, packs the china. The family sit around the dinner table. There are candles dotted about the room. Father stands up to speak to them all. J.B. gets fraught and upset when George wants to remove something from one of the sealed trunks. His wife comforts him and tells the children off. They sit around the table and hang their heads in shame. While J.B. continues with his speech, the two older children squabble quietly. Mary sticks her tongue out at George. Cut away to the wireless. The radio announcer says "This is the B.B.C. home service." George shouts "Quiet!" and continues. He is interrupted by the cuckoo clock, which has a number "1" on it. As she sits, Jennifer starts to fall asleep with boredom - her head falls forward. The noise of piano playing is heard from the house next door, and does not stop even though J.B. bangs on the wall, so he gathers the family around their own upright piano and joins them in singing "Auld Lang Syne" as loudly as possible.
The next day dawns - shot of the sky with a few clouds. A clock reads 9am. The removal men are outside with a large box van. There are six of them - well groomed and tidy and dressed in white coats and aprons. They knock on the door. The front door opens and the whole family are gathered in the hallway. J.B. lets the men in and tries to instruct them as to what to do but they manage to continue in their own way. J.B. looks worried as he wanders about carrying his shotgun. The removal men start to carry out furniture and, instructed by their father, the family watch every move. The men proceed with care despite J.B.'s worries. He rushes round the house, attempting to "organise".
With all the furniture moved out, the family look around the empty house together. They all walk down the front steps and look back at the house.
The removal van - Pickfords - arrive outside the new address. Inside, a view of an empty room. J.B. and Elsie discuss the positioning of their furniture and it appears in the room as if by magic. The room fills up with furniture and objects.
In the new house, J.B. stands in front of his mantelpiece once again, as his family sit around him. The cat is on the lionskin hearth rug, still labelled as no. 12, lapping up milk from a saucer. The goldfish swims in its bowl - number 26 - and finally the cat gazes into water in the goldfish bowl from above.

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